BACK TO ITALY We’re back and happy to be here. Home was great seeing friends and family. We were proud to be at Lesley’s graduation from Harvard Business School, a very special moment for us. It was terrific having the three girls and Michael home over the weekend and enjoying dinner with them and the grandmothers. The weekend was busy with Lexi Brawer’s Bat Mitzvah and Jennifer Shulkin’s wedding shower. By Monday we were happy to return to Italy to Santa Margharita Liguria with Lesley.

Santa Margharita is a small town on the coast that functions as a fishing port, but primarily as a holiday retreat for much of Italy. It is the next town to the very elegant Portofino and is a lively place with crowded sidewalks and streets. During the day people are on the beaches and in the water that runs along the main street of town. By evening, the sidewalks are packed with people at restaurants and outside cafe’s and the waterfront which has a wide promenade is filled with vacationers, families with children and dogs running about and an assortment of colorful characters. We made it to our hotel by 1:30 and went for lunch at a local pizzeria (really more of a restaurant) where we had great salads. This was followed by a walk around the town, along the dock and out to see some of the many yachts tied up in the harbor. This picture is from the wharf looking back towards our hotel, the Lido Palace.

We checked out some of the boat rental places and then returned to our rooms for naps. When we woke, we decided to take a hike to Portofino along an incredibly steep trail through olive groves and narrow stone paths. Here’s Lesley passing through one of the narrower and steeper sections of the trail. I was beginning to feel a little like Indiana Jones.

At times the trail seemed to be at a 45 degree angle. The view of Santa Margherita and Rapallo from the top was worth the walk.

We finally made it to Portofino and had a fabulous dinner on the water’s edge at ö Magazin. The food was great and the setting was perfect.

We managed to return to Santa Margherita by cab and retired for the night.

Wednesday we decided to take the train to check out the Cinque Terre, the five villages that run along the hilly coast south of here. They are separated by walking trails and are accessible either by train, hiking or water. The train was easy to catch, no more than five minutes from our hotel, and cheap at €3 per person each way. It brought us to Monterossa, a beautiful old town on the coast with beaches packed with beautiful sunbathers in various stages of dress and narrow streets filled with the aromas of cooking food. We stopped for lunch at Ristorante al Carugio on a VERY narrow “street” where I could reach from my seat and almost touch the other side. Once again, a fabulous meal, here being enjoyed by Lesley and Betsy.

After lunch, we began our trek up the first attempt at hiking the Cinque Terre. We took the trail from Monterosso to Levanto, a 2 ½ hour climb along narrow stone and dirt paths to a peak altitude of 412 meters. The view from the top was spectacular, almost indescribable. This picture looking down from Punta Mesco shows the entire expanse of the Cinque Terre.

Lesley was proud of her old parents who made it all the way, though we progressively shed our clothing as they became soaked with sweat. We loved almost every minute of it.

We made it to the train in time and rode back with a pleasant man from Senegal. After a rewarding shower and change of clothes, we went to Da Pezzi, a trattoria that is frequented mostly by locals. We had a great and thankfully inexpensive meal, then walked to the waterfront promenade to people watch, more entertaining than a movie. We can’t wait to find out what happened to the little boy and girl on their first date. Did they ever hold hands? The town is so relaxed and friendly, it is hard not to slip into a relaxed rhythm here.